Profile of the Thing

Real name: Benjamin Jacob Grimm
Powers: massive strength, all-but invulnerable rock-like skin
Birthplace: Queens, New York
Base of operations: New York City, New York
First appearance: Fantastic Four #1, November 1961

Ben Grimm grew up in a poor family in New York’s blue-collar Queens area, where he spent time in his younger years with the Yancy Street Gang. After the deaths of his parents, he was taken into custody by his uncle Jake Grimm, who’d been luckier to rise from poverty to success as a physician. He resisted their kindness at first, but eventually came to accept their love for him. He left behind his life with the Yancy Street Gang, and became a football star in high school, winning a football scholarship for college. When attending, his roommate was Reed Richards, a brilliant science student who became his closest friend. Later, when graduating, he enrolled in the US Air Force academy, where he became a top test pilot and astronaut. As a pilot, Ben also took part in many special operations, some of which were covert, and which introduced him to then fellow Air Force cadet Carol Danvers, who’s become Ms. Marvel/Binary/Warbird since then.

When Reed Richards and then fionce Sue Storm, and her younger brother Johnny, were trying to finance Reed’s own starship, which he built with both his own fortune and US government funding, and the latter threatened to withdraw their support for his inventions, Ben was asked to help them in launching it by serving as pilot for the craft into space. Ben agreed, and Sue and Johnny insisted on going as passengers. They were all subjected to massive cosmic ray bombardment, and Ben was forced to abort mission and return to earth, but not before the rays had already led to their gaining superpowers, and in his case, to be turned into an orange rock-like monster as well. Morose about his grotesque new appearance, Ben decided to call himself “The Thing.”

Even so, the newly formed Fantastic Four became the world’s most respected and celebrated superheroes, including the Thing, and Ben served as a member for many years. Over the years, Ben’s appearance has changed in his physical appearance from orange rock, dense, but still comparatively smooth forms, to a flexible, interlocking network of rock-like lumps. Likewise, even his superhuman strength has increased considerably from time to time. And sometimes, he’s even turned back to his human form too, but neither the changes that occurred to him, nor any induced by Reed in his attempts to turn him back to human form ever proved to be permanent.

He's been able to get used to his being “the ever lovin’, blue eyed Thing” over the years, and Alicia Masters, the blind sculptress who was lauded for her ability to shape sculptures by feeling the shape of her subjects, and whom Ben fell in love, was instrumental in helping him to adjust to his life in the rock-like form. He didn’t tell her right away about his actual appearance, but she told him years later, when they were being held captive by Doctor Doom in 1981, that she’d realized what he’d been turned into for longer than he’d thought.

Over the years, he’d gone solo at times, travelling around the country on various adventures with other superheroes, working briefly for a time as a wrestler for the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation. He then joined briefly as a member of the West Coast Avengers during its initial years, and was involved for a time with both the second Ms. Marvel, Sharon Ventura, and She-Hulk/Jennifer Walters, who was also his substitute in the Fantastic Four during his absence from the other three members.

In 2002, his Jewish background was fully acknowledged, in a stand alone story exploring his childhood on Yancy Street, and a case that brought him back there to investigate.

Copyright Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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